Asbury Kitchen and Chef Burke on NJNN

After Modine, a popular restaurant, closed in Asbury Park due to the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, notable chef David Burke has opened a new pop-up spot in town.

“It’s as normal as it’s going to get,” said Nancy, a customer. “I don’t think we’ll be dining in any time soon.”

And how does the chef feel?

“Thank goodness we have outdoor seating, and Asbury is our next venture,” Burke exclaimed. “We’re working on a future project in Asbury, and this came along, and we said, ‘Lets pop up here and get our feet wet.'”

NJNN spoke with Burke at his West New York restaurant before the Fourth of July weekend just as indoor dining was about to reopen.

“Well, the Governor pulled it, with 3 days notice,” Burke said. “It’s very strange that you can eat in Long Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and upstate New York, but not in New Jersey.”

Modine could not sustain itself amid the pandemic restrictions.

“We felt very bad when they closed,” said Kristin, a patron in Asbury Park.

“I think COVID hindered a lot of their success,” said chef Carmine DiGiovanni of Asbury Kitchen.

Jersey born and bred, Burke remembers his time growing up in the streets of Asbury Park.

“Asbury is really special,” he said. “I grew up in Monmouth County and I remember my first concerts at Convention Hall. It’s good to see the rhythm of this town and the come back.”

Outdoor dining in Asbury Park is booming during this summer shore season. All of Cookman Avenue is blocked off to extend seating.

“It’s really just challenging times; the most this industry has ever seen, so you have to reinvent the wheel so to speak,” DiGiovanni said.

“We should be here, weather permitting, for a couple of months. And we’ll see where we go from there,” Burke said.

The pop-up dining experience opened just two days ago and already customers are loving it.

“So far, it’s been amazing,” said Neil, a patron. “Food and drinks– would recommend people to come. Even with the virus going on, it seems they have their safety in place, space between people, face masks.”

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